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Lot 211, Auction 6/29/2017: Monumental Nayarit Pottery Standing Female

Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Nayarit, Ixtlan del Rio style, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. An enormous standing ceramic figure of a woman. She has her feet planted wide apart - one with six toes - and her arms out in front of her, one holding a bowl that seems to be made of an upturned shell. She wears a skirt, four bracelets on each arm, a large nose ring, and elaborate earrings. Her face is particularly well sculpted, with a prominent nose, realistic eyes, and an open mouth, possibly for placing offerings. Remains of bright pigment show through the manganese deposits - yellow and black on her face, black stripes over white on her upper body, and white on her arms and legs. Comes with custom stand. Size: 22.5" W x 29.75" H (57.2 cm x 75.6 cm); height on stand: 30.5" (77.5 cm).

Clay figures like this one are the only remains that we have today of a sophisticated and unique culture in West Mexico -- they made no above-ground monuments or sculptures, at least that we know of, which is in strong contrast to developments elsewhere in ancient Mesoamerica. Instead, their tombs were their lasting works of art: skeletons arrayed radially with their feet positioned inward, and clay offerings, like this one, placed alongside the walls facing inward, near the skulls. A large effigy like this one would most likely have flanked the entrance to a tomb in a way that archaeologists have interpreted as guarding. Some scholars have connected these dynamic sculptures of the living as a strong contrast to the skeletal remains whose space they shared, as if they mediated between the living and the dead.

Condition: Piece has been repaired at neck, arms, and one leg, as well as on the back. Repairs are well done and very difficult to see. Head is intact and there is a great deal of pigment remaining. Excellent surface deposits over much of the body.

Provenance: Ex-Allen Davis collection, Santa Fe, NM, Ex-Old LA collection acquired in the 1950's

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